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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Parasite
Parasite
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // August 6, 2002
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted August 29, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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In the mid-80's, I was a kid who spent his weekends with a stack of rented movies, usually horror, but with the odd crime, kung fu, or sword and sorcery film as well. I distinctly remember always seeing the cover to Parasite (1982)- the gaping maw of some creature, its rows of teeth glistening with slime. I'm almost certain I rented it and watched it over one of those weekend marathons, but if I did see it, it left very little of an impression. Now that I've seen it again for this review, I know why.

In the not-too-distant-future of 1992 (which I guess now qualifies as our not-too-distant-past), Dr Paul Dean has a tummy ache. No Rolaids is strong enough and Pepcid AC hasn't been invented yet. Paul has a nasty little parasite inside his gut, one that he invented for a large corporation that silently rules this post-apocalyptic world. He makes his way to the small town of Joshua and tries to find a cure for his creation. He runs afoul of the local hoodlums, who steal his only specimen (well, the only one not in his gut). With the aide of a kind local girl (Demi Moore) he must try to destroy the parasites and keep them out of the hands of the corporate goon sent to kill him and steal his research.

The post-apocalyptic adventure was one of the 80's staples. Films like The Road Warrior and Escape from New York inspired a glut of such films featuring rag-tag anti-heroes kicking mutant butt in some run-down locale. Parasite is the worst sort of post-apocalyptic film though, just using the idea of a "desolate future" to justify its lack of budget, no costume changes, shabby desert location, and such. And our hero isn't archetype of the mysterious drifter but a scientist who looks like the love child of Shelly Duvall, Vincent Cassell, and Steve Buscemi, and based on his physique, I'm guessing he have trouble fighting a strong desert wind, much less a twisted mutant or a Warriors wannabe wasteland gang leader.

The film feels and looks like it came out of the European minimalist film movement, a style that would inspire 80's indie filmmakers like Jim Jarmusch to make films where two people sit in a room, framed by one static camera shot, just sit drinking tea or whatever, speaking maybe one or two words to each other over the course of ten minutes. Its actually a style I love, but not when it comes to horror films. The direction/action in Parasite is so sparse, that even when action happens, its not really like it happened, so diffused of energy that its nullified. Its actually pretty funny that the film is slow enough as it is, but when it does come time for action, the action is often shown in slow motion, thus dragging the 80 (minus credits) minute running time out. Mainly the film is master shots, just a simple shot framing all the characters in a scene, with the occasional scene having some 'gasp' actual close-ups or individual shots. Even thought the story is extremely simple, it still manages some huge loopholes. So, despite some parasites munching on people and a hitman with a laser pointer, the film is really mundane and seems to drag forever.

Aside from trying to cash-in on the apocalypse bandwagon and Alien, the film was also part of the ill fated 80's 3-D revival. Like pretty much all 3-D movies, the 3-D scenes don't amount to much- a dirtbag impaled pole, a syringe squirting, and the parasite falling/leaping into the camera two or three times.

Who is responsible? Directed by prolific horror producer/director and Full Moon Pictures founder Charles Band, the man who helped bring us Crawlspace, Trancers, Zone Troopers, From Beyond and Puppetmaster and directed films like Head of the Family, Meridian and the far superior post-apocalyptic b-adventure Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn. Over the years Parasite has remained notable for two reasons, it has Stan Winston fx and it features the debut of Demi Moore as a lead actress (but really nearly all the roles in the film are so minimal, its hard to say anyone beyond the scientist is a lead actor). 80's alert!- One of the gang of kids that pesters the scientist and steals a parasite is played by the now deceased (AIDS) Tom Villard, best known for his numerous appearances on 80's game shows like Password, Hollywood Squares, Match Game and Body Language and his immortal role as one of the Stork brothers in One Crazy Summer

The DVD: Anchor Bay

Picture: Anamorphic. Widescreen. I don't know exactly what it is, but every 3-D film I have seen looks like crud. Parasite is extremely grainy and has very muted color, but so do other 3-D films, whether it be Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D, or Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. Maybe thats some sacrifice you make for the 3-D process, I'm not 100% sure. So, I guess you cannot fault the transfer too much, just bear in mind if you are new to the film, the picture isn't stellar but it is passable.

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Surround 2.0. Not much to say. Pretty basic and it gets the job done. The film was scored by Richard Band, Re-Animator, From Beyond, Pit and the Pendulum, Stargate SG-1.

Extras: 24 Chapters--- Trailer

Conclusion: Really, this movie is just for the nostalgic 80's horror film fan, and loony Demi Moore/Stan Winston stalkers. As evidenced by the basic presentation (no extras), Anchor Bay is putting this one out there for the few fans it may have. Unless you remember it fondly and want to add it to your collection, I suggest a rental because I just don't see it having much replay value for most people.

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